It’s great when academic research is covered by the media but too often this coverage fails to link back to or properly cite the research itself. It’s time academics insisted on this and Andy Tattersall outlines the benefits of doing so. As well as pointing more people to your work, the use of identifiers allows you to track this attention and scrutinise where and how your research has been used. At a time when academic work is vulnerable to misreporting, such a simple step can help ensure the public are able to view original research for themselves.
Academics are increasingly being sold the benefits of working with the media as an effective way of gaining impact and presenting their work to a wider audience. Yet all too often media coverage of research has no direct link to the research it is referring to. The general public are used to seeing news stories that say ‘researchers have found’ or ‘researchers from the university of’ yet these reports are often lacking when it comes to linking to or citing the actual research. Academics dealing with the media should make a point of insisting on linking to their original research outputs where applicable as there are several benefits. Given that Oxford Dictionaries just named ‘post-truth’ as their word of 2016, we need to do everything we can to ensure fact retains its importance in the reporting of research.
POST, as it is known, is based at the heart of Westminster. It serves both Houses of Parliament in providing impartial advice to parliamentarians on science and technology policy issues; often in the form of briefing papers called POSTnotes. POST was formed by a group of MPs and Peers concerned at the lack of scientific evidence available to influence Parliamentary policy and in 2001 both Houses decided that POST should be established as a permanent bicameral institution.
Lauren Carter-Davies, Public Policy Institute for Wales
In addition to our remit to support Welsh Government Ministers to identify their evidence needs and provide them with independent expert advice and analysis, the Public Policy Institute for Wales (PPIW) is trying to play a broader role in developing the ‘evidence ecosystem’ in Wales – the networks and channels through which evidence can inform policy and practice. We think that it’s important that Assembly Members who are involved in scrutinising policy and legislation also have access to authoritative independent policy experts.
The National Assembly for Wales is a democratically elected body with three main roles: representing the interests of Wales and its people, making laws for Wales, and holding the Welsh Government to account through policy scrutiny. In fulfilling these roles, the Assembly is a big consumer of research and is always looking to make links with independent sources of expertise. Specifically, the National Assembly for Wales Research Service provides impartial research and information to support Assembly Members and committees in fulfilling the scrutiny, legislative and representative functions of the Assembly. Providing an effective Research Service requires access to research from external organisations and individuals with knowledge and expertise in relevant subject areas. Continue reading →
In October 2015 I wrote a post about how research gets into Parliament. Six months on, in April this year, I had a Twitter conversation with Matthew Purvis, head of research services in the House of Lords Library. Matthew told me that there are a couple of other ways that research gets into Parliament, which I didn’t know about when I wrote my original post. So below is an update. Updates are in italics in the text, but here’s a summary of what’s new:
Research also gets into Parliament:
in Lords Briefing Packs (no. 6)
through Lords Library responses to Peers’ questions (no. 8)
through the House of Lords Library Current Affairs Digest (no. 9)
Nine ways research gets into Parliament (pdf here).
Patrick Dunleavy is Professor of Political Science at the LSE and is Chair of the LSE Public Policy Group. He is well known for his book Authoring a PhD: How to plan, draft, write and finish a doctoral dissertation or thesis (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003).
You’ve just published a research article – why should you bother writing a blog post about it? Patrick Dunleavyargues that if you’ve devoted months to writing the paper, dealing with comments, doing rewrites and hacking through the publishing process, why would you not spend the extra couple of hours crafting an accessible blogpost? Here he breaks down in eleven easy steps how to generate a short-form version of your research article.
One of the oddest things that people in academic life regularly say to me is: ‘I’m not paid to write blogposts, only research articles. If my department or the grant-funder wants to start paying me for doing posts, then that would be a different matter’. Or alternatively, the argument goes: ‘I just don’t have the time to do blogging’. Or finally, the clinching rebuttal is: ‘Your blogpost just won’t get cited, and in today’s research environment, only citations count’.
Apparently then a lot of folk suffer from some serious misconceptions about what writing a blogpost entails:
They think it takes days, weeks, or even months to produce that difficult bit of text — it doesn’t, it takes two or three hours at most.
They believe that time devoted to a blogpost is time away from your main research — it’s not. Your post is done after you’ve finished and published your journal article — it is just a more readable and hopefully more popular version of that article, with key messages summarized in about 1,000 words.
Perhaps they also think that publishing a blogpost takes the time and hassle involved in submitting to journals, trekking through box after box of obscure electronic publishing bureaucracy, and then waiting weeks or months before seeing a proof, and months more for publication. But publishing a post is not like that at all. You get your 1,000 words finished in Word or equivalent. Include a table or a chart or two, being scrupulous to present them well. Then send it to a multi-author blog with a big readership in your field and a couple of days later your text is online at the blog.
Discussions about research and policy have a tendency to be more reflective about policy-making in general, rather than focusing on the more practical aspects of how research filters through a variety of networks and into policy discussions. Sarah Foxen looks at eight specific ways research currently gets into Parliament and provides some helpful links on where to start to get more involved.
I recently attended an RCUK-funded training day on research and policy. Part-way through one of the breakout sessions, it became apparent that my peers were sharing my frustrations with the training. We had expected to gain practical insight into how research feeds into policy, but instead the training had a rather more reflective focus, with the majority of speakers using their lectern time to perpetuate or challenge discourses surrounding academic impact.
Engaging with the media can be tough, as noted by many of the academics who attended the PolicyBristol workshop. Some of the potential barriers they identified included:
– Requirement for research findings to be ‘timely’
– Mismatch of pace
– The feeling of needing to be an expert
– Distraction from ‘day job’
– Fear of misrepresentation
But behind these potential challenges, there’s a whole host of benefits. Getting your research into the public domain is often essential for realising its impact, and can also be an important source of participants/collaborators for your research itself. One could also argue that, from a moral or ethical perspective, change should involve public opinion. As Sue Littlemore, former BBC Education Correspondent, pointed out: it’s not about engaging with the media for its own sake – it’s about ‘communicating with the world’.
In this blog post, Kim Eggleton, our Journals Executive, explains why she believes social media is the researcher’s new best friend
Kim Eggleton, Journals Executive
Whenever I talk to researchers about using social media, the most common “objection” I hear is that it’s self-promotion, and nothing more than vanity.
The second most common protest is that good research should stand on its own merits, and if it’s good enough, people will find it. I can understand where both these opinions come from, but I think the world has moved on considerably and neither of these concerns are valid any longer.
…in 2012, over 1.8 million articles were published in 28,000 journals.